Adolescence is a stage of developmentin the lifespan of all humans. The textbook Introductionto Human Services written by Michelle E.
Martin explores the possible rolesof the human service professional in chapter six, Adolescent Services. Adolescence fallssomewhere between child hood and adulthood and can vary in length depending onculture, history, social, and regional influences. Each of these influences areexplored, and examples are applied to demonstrate the affects they can have onthe perception and expectations of adolescents throughout generations. Martin(2018) claimed the expectations and behaviors of adolescents changes throughgenerations depending on the events occurring in the world around them.This chapterwithin the book, viewed adolescence developmentally while examining thechallenges of changing from a child to an adult. These developmental challenges are acombination of factors ranging from family experience, peers, and sociological influencesthat cause a spider web of emotions and experiences. Dealing with such complexissues and emotions can often cause the adolescent to need guidance and therapyfrom human services professionals.
Some of the issues that professionals mayencounter while working with adolescents include psychological disorders,disruptive and impulse control, and conduct disorders, which can often bedifficult to decipher between normal versus abnormal teen behavior. Adolescentsmay also experience anxiety, depression, eating disorders, self-injury andsuicide. Lastly,Chapter six explored the different practice settings that are available toteens experiencing these disorders and to possible human service professionalswithin this field.
Dealing with adolescent disorders require a range ofservices from foster or group home settings, boot camps, out patientcounseling, in-patient care facilities, and residential treatment programs thatoffer a wide variety of extra-curricular activities. Martin (2018) closed thechapter with focusing on cultural differences. She explained that race andethnicity need to be considered as they can play a large part on not only thebehaviors of some teens, but more importantly, the professional should be awareof the affects of race and ethnicity on adolescent development. The psychological disorder suicide isincreasing, and adolescents are at an elevated risk for suicide. It is thesecond leading cause of death among adolescents (Martin, 2018).
They are at agreater risk due to the complex issues surrounding the emotional anddevelopmental aspects of entering adulthood, yet they lack the reasoning tounderstand that harm may come to them. It is important to distinguish betweensuicide, suicidal ideation, and the several types of suicidal behaviors. Eachrequires a different approach in treatment. The definition of suicide is theending of one’s own life. Suicidal ideation involves the thought process ofthinking about the process of ending one’s own life. Knowing the differencebetween the two is vital for successful treatment. Trust becomes one of themost beneficial parts of treatment.
It s important for the human serviceprofessional to know when to escalate the need for intervention and when tocontinue treatment as a confidant for the adolescent. The fragile linedistinguishing between a suicidal gesture, which is usually a cry for help, andan actual attempt can be blurry. Most important for the human serviceprofessional is to realize that every suicidal gesture could result in asuccessful suicide. The prevention of suicide requires understanding all thepsychosocial risk factors involved. Knowing that there is a significantdifference between the type of adolescent that attempts suicide and the onethat commits suicide can offer insight to some of the behaviors common is ahigh-risk adolescent.
For example, more males commit suicide and more femalesattempt unsuccessful suicides (as cited in Martin, 2018). Suicide completionoften has the forewarning feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and negativeself-concept followed by feelings of little or no social support and hostility.Emphasis is given to create a safety plan once an adolescent has been deemed asuicide risk. A safety plan includes removal of all dangerous objects, weapons,and medication. Prevention is the most successful treatment of suicide. Suicidewith its epidemic numbers is an important topic for human service professionalsto become experts in recognizing risk factors, assessments, and treatments.Ongoing education and increased involvement in society including the judicialsystem is imperative to combatting this epidemic. Exploring the biological,cultural, and historical aspects of suicide can offer some insight.
Overall, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in theUnited States. Over 44,000 Americans die by suicide each year. Though there isno record of attempted suicides each year, it is estimated that there are 25attempts per every suicide death.
Women are 3 times more likely to attemptsuicide, while men are 3 times more likely to be successful. Firearms areresponsible for nearly 50% off all suicides, and men are more likely to use afirearm to attempt suicide than women (About Suicide, 2016). Why do men diefrom suicide more often than women?Suicide has a long history in human culture. The firstrecorded reference in suicide was in Ancient Egyptian literature. Suicide wasgenerally accepted in Egypt at the time, as death was seen as a passage fromone level of existence to another.
It was also seen as a way to avoid excessivepain, a slow death, or dishonor. In Ancient Rome and Greece, beliefs aboutsuicide were more nuanced. For the wealthy suicide was motivated for fourreasons: the preservation of honor, the avoidance of excessive pain anddisgrace, bereavement, and patriotism. However, suicide was outlawed forsoldiers, slaves, and persons on trial, and among the lower classes suicide wasfrowned upon. Many Greek philosophers; such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle,opposed suicide, believing that humans belonged to the gods. Despite hisopposition, Socrates himself committed suicide.
In Japan, seppuku was a ritual form of disembowelingoneself. Seppuku was invoked to admit failure, atone for dishonor, or to avoidhumiliation. Samurai, incorporated seppuku into their ethical code known as Bushido, where samuraiwere required to follow their fallen feudal lords into the next life, to regainhonor and avoid execution. Among other cultures, the Vikings considered suicide anacceptable death for warriors who did not die in battle along with theircompatriots and be allowed into Valhalla. The Goths and Celts favored suicideover a natural death. Eskimos committed suicide to enter the next life as theiryounger selves rather than die old and feeble. In a number of cultures, wives,servants, and slaves were required to commit suicide when their master died,from suicide or not.
Hindu culture is ambiguous, condemning it but consideringit is justified in special cases, especially when a person has lived a fulllife. Centuries of honor suicides among men have clearly had abiological component to it. In American culture suicide is not accepted, butremains prevalent in society. As previously stated, men are 3 times as likelyto commit suicide despite being 3 times less like to attempt it. The reasonsfor men committing suicide vary. Mental and physical health issues arecertainly a reason to end one’s life, but the loss of honor or failure stillplay a major role.
Researchers have known for years that suicide rates arehigher in cultures that favor individualism over those that emphasizecommunity. Studies have also shown, as seen in history, that cultures thatovervalue honor are more likely to have suicide rates. These two factorsincrease the predictability of suicide in those cultures.
InAmerica, it is believed that the mid-west and south have the strongesthistorical ties to the honor culture. Practices characteristic of honor statesinclude family based feuds and dueling between individuals (i.e. gunfights).Honor states have higher rates of gun ownership, homicides, and divorce. Honorstates historically known to be more sensitive to slights, slurs, and insultsthat would often be dealt with through violence. Honor states are also morelikely to have “stand your ground” law.
People living in honor statesare more likely to become distressed emotionally when their honor is challenged,and they often are inclined to use violence to restore honor. This makes peoplein honor states to harm others in the restoration of their honor and also morelikely to harm themselves when that are unable to restore that honor (Cultural Values,White,n.d.
).Studies have shown the depression rates in these honorstates are higher than other states. They have also shown the men and women issouthern and mid-western states are less likely to seek help fromprofessionals. Statistics of the number of anti-depressant prescriptions aresignificantly lower in these honor states. Depression is a major factor in a person deciding toattempt suicide. However, depression does not explain why men are more like todie from suicide than women do. Women are twice as likely to have depressioncompared to men and are two times more likely to have PTSD. Depression and PTSDgo hand in hand, as if you have one, you are very likely to have the other.
So,it is logical to believe that women would have higher suicide rates than men.As the opposite is true, depression is not the sole precursor to suicide. There are many reasons why men are 3 times more likely tosucceed killing themselves. They gravitate towards more lethal methods.
Theyare less likely to seek professional help and more likely to self-medicate. Menare also more likely to not factor the effects of suicide on others-spouses,children, family, or friends. The commonality to these factors are rooted inpride and honor. Psychiatrist theorize that when a man commits suicide, it isabout him, and does not feel the need to share the decision with others.
History has shown us, in numerous cultures throughout timethat suicide is an acceptable form of death for men, particularly in the nameof honor-patriotism, pride, and keeping one’s virtue. Research has shown usthat suicide rates in so called “honor cultures” are significantlyhigher than other societies. It stands to reason that men have a biologicalpredisposition towards using suicide as an answer for extreme failure. However,as society’s views towards opposition and condemnation of suicide has changed,particularly in Western Culture, so too will the evolutionary influence of socalled “honor cultures” diminish the need for men to kill themselvesin the name of honor. Whenconsidering suicide amongst other disorders plaguing adolescents, race andethnicity should be one of the key aspects explored when treatment. Society,family, and the worldly events affects the development and self- perception ofteens. The disparity in mental health diagnosis is evident in a 2001 study thatshowed black males were diagnosed more with conduct disorders versus whitemales who were diagnosed with depression.
Society has placed a stigma on theblack males as being more prone to violence and therefore, society could haveinfluenced the medical provider to believe the same. It could be that themedical provider has failed to understand the cultural differences the blackmale has versus the white male (as cited in Martin., 2018). Culture has asignificant impact on the mental health factors, diagnosis and treatment ofadolescents.
Mexican Americans are at a higher risk of depression and suicidethan Caucasians. Asians, Hispanics and African Americans are less likely toreceive treatment for depressive disorders for several reasons. The firstreason is affordable mental health treatment and facilities are not as readilyavailable in lower income neighborhoods. Many ethnic communities have anegative stigma on mental health and many only receive mental health care oncethey have entered the judicial system. Raceand institutional racism is not the only barrier in receiving mental healthtreatment. Poverty, crime infested neighborhoods and family chaos have asubstantial impact as well. African Americans are more likely to be raised insingle parent homes, enter foster care, and experience physical or mentalabuse.
Latino adolescents are more likely to conduct in antisocial behavior andjuvenile delinquency, yet they tend to have a stronger family based supportsystem that offers mental health care and concern. Understanding how eachculture assesses, perceives, and tolerates adolescent behavior is necessary forthe human service professional for affective cultural competent treatment to beoffered. Thesection on Non-Suicidal Self -InjuryDisorder had intriguing facts regarding the ability for adolescents to copewith deep rooted feelings and emotions. A side affect of depression andanxiety, Martin (2018), described self-mutilating as easier to mange than theconfusing feelings of depression.
The astonishing number of 40 percent ofcollege students admitted to some degree of self-harming is disturbing. As a forty-year-oldfemale, military brat, raised mostly in a rural country setting, I neverexperienced depression or engaged in self-harm. Although, I was somewhat of theworst of four teenagers. I engaged in underaged drinking, utilizing marijuanaand skipping school and curfews. My party days were short lived and usually hadtough consequences. My father made us do yard work such as weeding a very largegarden, picking rocks, chopping wood, cutting grass, and clearing brush. Thechapter on adolescent services seemed to overlook most of the biologicalfactors that teenagers experience that could affect their mental health.
Explaining how sleep patterns affect a teen’s mental health and brain functionis vital to understanding and even treating some mental health issues. In a recentNY Times article, regarding sleep patterns and teenagers, Dr. Wendy Troxel, aclinical psychologist, senior behaviorist, and social scientist, stated thereis a significant increase of new depression cases arrive when children become teenagers(2017). Troxel explained that a greatamount of time and money is spent on programs designed to prevent suicide andprevent substance abuse and promote safe sex, and she claims they are notalways very successful. She further explained that sleep loss problems aredirectly linked to the areas of the brain that control emotional processing andrisk taking. “Sleep problems and behavioral and mental health problems arelinked (Troxel, 2017).
Biologicalfactors should be added to the chapter, even if brief. Without it, a piece ofthe puzzle is missing.